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Clannad ~After Story~ Collection 2 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

December 12, 2009 by  



Incredibly emotional, hilarious and entertaining.  The final half of “Clannad ~After Story~” is definitely an emotional rollercoaster that will definitely make you cry.  Tragic and uplifting, the best dramatic anime television series that I have ever seen in a very, very long time!  A fantastic conclusion to the series and most of all, highly recommended!

 

Image courtesy of © VisualArt’s /Key/Hikarisaka High School Drama Club.  All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Clannad ~After Story~ – Collection 2

DURATION: Episodes 13-25 (325 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen, Japanese 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: TBS Animation/Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: December 8, 2009

Original Character Designs by Itaru Hinoue

Directed by Tatsuya Ishihara

Series Composition/Screenplay by Fumihiko Shimo

Music by Jun Maeda, Magome Togoshi, Shinji Orito

Character Design by Kazum Ikeda

Art Director: Mutsuo Shinohara

Chief Animation Director: Kazumi Ikeda

Sound Director: Yota Tsuruoka

Direction of Photography: Ryuuta Nakagami

Featuring the following voice talent:

Mai Nakahara as Nagisa Furukawa

Yuuichi Nakamura as Tomoya Okazaki

Ai Nonaka as Fuuko Ibuki

Akemi Kanda as Ryou Fujibayashi

Daisuke Sakaguchi as Youhei Sunohara

Houko Kuwashima as Tomoyo Sakagami

Kikuko Inoue as Sanae Furukawa

Mamiko Noto as Kotomi Ichinose

Ryotaro Okiayu as Akio Furukawa

Ryou Hirohashi as Kyou Fujibayashi

Ai Bandou as Sugisaka

The course of love doesn’t always run true. Nagisa may have accepted Tomoya’s proposal, but her father, Akio, withholds his permission until Tomoya can meet his terms… and even if that can be achieved, darker clouds are gathering that will shatter their dreams forever, as Nagisa’s health begins declining. When what should be a happy moment turns instead into tragedy, Tomoya’s rage and frustration at being unable to do more than be by Nagisa’s side leaves him unable to handle the responsibility left to him. But the story is not yet over, and there is still another act to follow. Happiness can still be attained, provided that Tomoya holds onto love, the most precious thing of all. The grand climax, plus several enchanting side stories, await in the second collection of CLANNAD AFTER STORY.

When it comes to the Japanese software company Key, many fans appreciate their work as the video games tend to be dating simulators for the PC and many other video game consoles.  Known for two visual novels “Kanon” and “Air” (both were adapted to anime series), the objects of the video games tend to be the gamer controlling the main male protagonist and with a lot of female friends, answering questions correctly in order to score.  The first two video games were adult-based but in 2004, the company released “Clannad”, a series that would not show nudity or fan service and a game for all ages.

“Clannad” received an anime adaptation in 2007 with a total of 23-episodes  and was released on DVD earlier this year in the US from Sentai Filmworks.  The second season known “Clannad ~After Story~” (which takes place after the first season of Clannad and then ten years later) is now being released in the US.   The anime series is directed by Tatsuya Ishihara (“Air”, “Kanon”, “Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya”) and a screenplay by Fumihiko Shimo (“Full Metal Panic!”, “Air”, “Burst Angel”, “Gravion”, “Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya”).  The character design for the anime series is by Kazumi Ikeda (“Kanon”) and is faithful to the original designs by Itaru Hinoue (“Air”, “Kanon”).

“Clannad” was an anime series that focused on high school students Tomoya Okazaki and a girl he meets his senior year named Nagisa Furukawa. Tomoya, who was a brash teenager who got into a lot of fights with his father and Nagisa, a frail teenager who has been out of school for periods of time due to an illness but somehow along the way, these two have found a special bond and love for one another.

As the first season of “Clannad” focuses on these two characters and their friends, the first part of “Clannad ~After Story~” continued with storyline of high school life and focusing on a storyline for each of the main and supporting characters and life for Tomoya and Nagisa after he has graduated from high school.

But with “Clannad ~After Story~ – Collection 2”, the final half of the series focuses primarily on the two as they now prepare for marriage and having a family life and the story moves forward ten years later. Needless to say, as the series has had its share of emotional episodes, the end of those story arc’s have ended with happy endings.  With this second collection, things grow much darker and tragic and if you thought the prior episodes were emotional, this final volume is much more deeper than ever.

The main characters of “Clannad ~After Story~” are:

  • Tomoya Okazaki – The main protagonist.  A delinquent in school who tends to cut class or fall asleep from class, his life is changed for the positive when he meets Nagisa Furukawa.  He hangs out with his good friend Youhei Sunohara.  In “Clannad ~After Story~”, Tomoya continues to live with Nagisa’s family and are now a couple.
  • Nagisa Furukawa – A shy teenager who is passionate towards an old commercial for the Dango Family.  Her parents Akio and Sanae run a pastry shop where Nagisa helps out.  Because of her poor health, she has been forced to repeat her senior year in high school three times but has grown stronger and more appreciative of life after she has met Tomoya.  Now dating Tomoya.
  • Youhei Sunohara – Tomoya’s good friend who always gets in trouble and is often seen getting beat up.  He is known for his blonde hair and has a younger sister named Mei who constantly worries about him.  Has no real aspirations in  life.
  • Kyou Fujibayashi – The twin sister of Ryou Fujibayashi. Very tough girl who gets in Tomoya and Youhei’s face and always thinks he is mistreating her sister or other girls.  Dreams of becoming a teacher.
  • Ryou Fujibayashi – Twin sister of Kyou, she is the most reserved and quite of the two.  She’s always defended by her twin sister Kyou.  Dreams of becoming a nurse.
  • Kotomi Ichinose – The smartest girl in  school.  Plays the violin badly.  Is given the chance to study abroad and is considering it.
  • Tomoyo Sakagami– The transfer student who is rumored to be a violent girl and she demonstrates her fighting skills by taking out two gangsters.  She wants to become a student body president and idolizes Youhei’s landlord Misae (a former student body president who was tough).
  • Fuko Ibuki – A girl that Tomoya meets in school and learns about her obsession with starfish.  It is revealed in the first season that the girl Tomoya met was the spirit of Fuko, as the real person (the younger sister of teacher, Kouko Ibuki) has been unconscious in a hospital for a long period of time.
  • Yukine Miyazawa – A student who works/hangs out at the Library Reference room.  Most people go to her to listen to her problems.  A kind person who tends to help delinquents and gang members.

“Clannad ~After Story~ – Collection 2” features a total of 13 episodes on two DVD’s.    Here is a spoiler-less summary of each episode:

DISC 3:

  • EPISODE 13 – Tomoya and Nagisa plan to get married but Tomoya must win her father’s approval.
  • EPISODE 14 – Nagisa and Tomoya are now married and take another step forward into their relationship with even more happy news.
  • EPISODE 15 – Nagisa is pregnant but her illness has come back.  Tomoya is told the risks of Nagisa’s pregnancy.
  • EPISODE 16 – Nagisa is about to give birth but with her ill and the snow so heavy in their hometown, what will happen after she gives birth?
  • EPISODE 17 – Five years later, Nagisa’s parents find a way to bring Tomoya and his daughter Ushio together.
  • EPISODE 18 – While Tomoya and his daughter are on their first trip together, Tomoya learns from his grandmother of how his life is similar to how his father was when his mother died.
  • EPISODE 19 – After hearing the story of his father, Tomoya decides that he must take the important steps in making things right with his father.

DISC 4:

  • EPISODE 20 – Tomoya now does his best in trying to raise his young daughter Ushio, meanwhile Fuko and Ushio become friends.
  • EPISODE 21 – Ushio suffers from the same illness as her mother and now Tomoya makes sure that he is there for his daughter.
  • EPISODE 22 – Final episode: We then learn the purpose of the opening sequences of each episode of “Clannad” of who is the girl and the robot and an alternate universe.
  • EPISODE 23 – EXTRA – We learn how life was for Nagisa a year before she and Tomoya met.
  • EPISODE 24 – OVA: Another World: Kyou Chapter – Similar to the Tomoyo chapter OVA, this alternate universe is about what if Tomoya and Kyou were a couple.
  • EPISODE 25 – SUMMARY – A summary of events of how Tomoy and Nagisa met, to the day they got married, when she became pregnant and gave birth and Tomoya entering into a new world with a different outcome than what he had experienced before.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

So far, each anime series that were based off a Key video game such as “Kanon” and “Air” have both been fantastic anime series featuring vibrant animation, colorful backgrounds and just many settings that really make the series stand out.  The same can be said about “Clannad ~After Story!”, the animation and production is absolutely fantastic.  Kyoto Animation has done a wonderful job with the artistic backgrounds.  Also, the animation is solid and character designs are also done very well.  “Clannad ~After Story~” is featured in 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen and picture quality for the anime series on DVD is wonderful!  The OVA “Another World: Kyou Chapter” wasn’t aired in Japan as part of the TV series but because its an OVA, has better production quality than the TV series with more detailed background art and more shading in the animation.

As for the audio, the audio of the series is in Japanese 2.0.  Japanese voice acting is solid and a lot of well-known Seiyuu are involved in the series.  Dialogue is understandable and clear.  Personally, I chose to have my receiver play the series with “Stereo on All Channels” for a more improve soundscape.  As for English dubs, there are no English dubbed dialogue available for “Clanand” or “Clannad ~After Story~”.

Subtitles are featured in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Clannad ~After Story~ – Collection 2” features the clean opening and closing animation and Sentai Filmworks trailers.

This is the part I have waited for and have heard so much about from fans of the series.  “Clannad ~After Story~ Collection 2” becomes more real as Tomoya and Nagisa now live their adult lives as a married a couple and eventually wanting to start a family.  We have received hints from the opening of the anime series with a girl and a robot but the storylines were vague until you reach this final half of the season.

The final half of “Clannad ~After Story~” is fantastic and emotional.    I don’t think I have cried this hard for an anime series since I have watched “Grave of the Fireflies”, that is how depressing and emotional that “Clannad ~After Story~” has gotten and episode after episode, I couldn’t stop, it was that captivating and suffice to say, you are pulled in as you have watched many episodes of Tomoya and Nagisa grow from their high school years and now to their married years and you have two bombshells dropped on you that is so emotionally hard to take in.

Also, knowing that those emotions and what you see, mirrors reality in knowing that there are fathers who have had to deal with a similar situation that Tomoya had to go through.  The series does have a happy ending and of course, the realism of the storyline can be lost but in the context of what we experienced throughout this series, especially with the Fuko and Yukine storyline, there are magical things that happen in the world of “Clannad”.  The balls of light that we have seen in several episodes and the discussion of alternate universes (especially with the two OVA’s), the screenplay plays off possibly like its video game counterpart that this is not a an anime series based on reality, it’s a series based on possibilities and anything is possible.

For the realists, one can feel that with episode 21, the tragedy that unfolds is their true conclusion.  For those who want that magical, happy ending… episode 22 and the final episode summary gives you that other option.  It’s interesting because typically, you don’t get a choice in the matter at the end of an anime series.  Pretty much at the end of a series, what is done is done (unless there is a movie or OVA version reimagining the series).  Not for “Clannad ~After Story~”, the series has always had its enjoyable happy moments and its emotional moments.  As a viewer, part of me felt that episode 21 is how things should be, to capture that realism of the storyline.  But knowing how things happened during the Fuko, Misae and Yukine storyline in “Clannad” and “Clannad ~After Story~”, magical things happen in the town where Tomoya and Nagisa live which can’t be explained and thus episode 22 and the summary episode is an ending that makes sense.

In the end and now watching this series from beginning to end and almost like a marathon, so captivated that I couldn’t stop, I realize why this acclaimed series is loved by many.  Definitely one of the best dramatic anime series I have seen in a very long time since “Kimagure Orange Road”, “Maison Ikkoku” and the “Video Girl Ai” OVA series.

Overall, “Clannad ~After Story~” and the whole entire “Clannad” series on DVD receives my highest recommendation!

 






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